Photo Credit: FRIED ELLIOTT / friedbits.com
It’s Miami, it’s Biscayne Bay and it’s the Star Class. A big fleet of Star boats is racing on the blue ocean waters with 10 knots of breeze: it doesn’t get much better than this and it is easy to understand why so many sailors got hooked to Star sailing when events are organized in the South of Florida in winter time.
This is what the International Star Class Legacy Foundation board thought when, about one year ago, started thinking and molding the event they believe will keep one of the oldest sport association shining bright for many years to come, the Under 30 World Championship.
The Legacy Foundation was created in 2016 by a group of Star passionate who were worried about the future of their beloved boat and class. Born in 1911 by a genius American designer, the Star is among the oldest boat still holding very participated regattas, because it is still one of the most versatile, technical and challenging boat ever built. It was represented at 18 Olympic Games for 80 years, it went from the age of real traditional regattas in the Thirties and Forties to the technological era of the fast boats at the London Games in 2012. That was the last time the class was to the Olympics, and then is when the Star Class started noticing a decrease in membership and an increase of age of members.
And if it is without doubts great to see how the Star boat is ‘sailable’ for life, to keep the one century long tradition alive and kicking somebody had to turn hopes into action.
It was then that the International Star Legacy Foundation was born with a triumvirate leading and many fans to follow. Larry Whipple from the USA, Alberto Zanetti from Argentina and Hubert Merkelbach from Germany (then substituted by fellow German Frithjof Kleen when elected Star Class President) represent the founding trio who started recruiting funders among the most loyal Star class members. But it was not just a Fund raising company, the Legacy Foundation aimed, with the help of a solid economic base, to find ways to keep the Class going by encouraging an appealing young sailors to join it even without the five circles final goal.
“The whole idea of the U30 Worlds was born with the Legacy Foundation – says Larry Whipple one of the men behind the wheel of the event, and founder member of the Legacy Foundation – Getting Youth in the class was one of the corner stones of the Legacy and what better way to do it than with an event. I spoke to the Star Sailors League about this about a year ago and together we looked at what others were doing, and the Finn class has a Silver Cup, which is their Junior World Championship, so without copying any of that, we came out with our Under 30 Championship. And we’ve been very lucky to have almost 40 skippers joining and I believe part of this success resides in the fact that the event was held in Miami this time of year, with many boats available, and many owners willing to lend them, because there are numerous events this time of year held here.
We have a lots of other ideas to promote the Class and great commitments by the people, but the funds are not that substantial and that is also why the Star Class U30 World Championship is a shared thing between the foundation and the Class, and with the help of everybody we could manage to not sped a fortune on this and still offer World Championship standards, cause we didn’t want to offer nothing less than this!”
The Legacy work side by side with the Star Class, with the support of the Star Sailors League that, with its live streaming, great media coverage and legends sailing at the SSL Finals each December, brought the limelight back on the Star after it was canceled by the Olympics. The Star Class will communicate its need to the Legacy who will try to fulfill them without going into single sailor financial support, but by trying to help more sailors easily access the class, like it happened at the U30 Worlds in Miami.
“The Legacy foundation had a great vision to organize this event here in Miami in this moment – says Frithjof Kleen, Star World Champion as crew and in the Legacy Foundation board – a great motivation for the juniors because not only is one of the best sailing spot in the worlds, but also it is one of the best cities in the world and offer great logistic. Everybody can just fly here from everywhere. It was a revolutionary event and I am proud I was part of it: the Class with the Legacy offered boats, crews and accommodation to the U30 skippers, some of them like Guido Gallinaro were quite young (18 years old), and it is completely different from what everyone did in the past.
We are very happy and honored to be able to say that after sailing the Star for the first time here in Miami at the U30 Worlds, there are at least five skippers who are looking into getting their own boat and becoming members of the Star Class.”
The Under 30 Worlds was an undeniable success for sailors and spectators, and, as it was in the Founders concept, it will take place every year with the support of the Star Class, the Star Sailors League and the Legacy Foundation with its passionate triumvirate. Almost 40 boats were at the starting line this year with some of the best young talents at the helms and legends of our sport crewing, let’s see if in 2020, for the second edition of the U30 Star Class World Championship the 50 boats record will be broken and who will lift the golden trophy from the 2019 Champion Luke Lawrence (USA).